Thanks Kumar Venkateswar from the Microsoft Exchange Product Group. We value hearing directly from the Product Groups when you join us in conversation in the Office 365 Network on Yammer. Kumar added to a conversation thread, speaking openly about the challenges of getting Clutter to understand human behaviour when reading their email. What is a message of lesser value, but still important to keep - for a while? How does the Clutter feature of Office 365 determine this?
"We do have metrics, both on the average number of messages moved, as well as the number of people with zero messages moved. There are definitely more of the latter than we'd like, but it is an active area of work. Some of the challenges are related to people that read all of their messages. Due to client behavior, we have some difficulty in distinguishing between "marked as read without reading" and "marked as read after reading", but we are working on improvements to that."
Kumar reiterated that the clearest signal that a message is Clutter is when we don't read a message. Those messages will be used to identify a pattern for future messages to be moved to the Clutter folder. - If we read a message or move it using an Inbox rule, Clutter won't use it to develop a pattern. - If we read a message and consider it Clutter, we should move it to the Clutter folder. Better still, mark it as unread AND move it to the Clutter folder. I agree, Clutter has a difficult job trying to determine if a read message is Clutter. I have heard and read on this thread of people who, even though they are training Clutter by dragging messages to the folder, Clutter isn't developing the "rule" to consider those future messages as Clutter. I think that is one of the main difficulties people are experiencing. They want Clutter to work and are willing to help train it. But they aren't having much success. The second group of unhappy people are those where Clutter incorrectly marked messages as Clutter and delivered much more than it should into the folder. They have tried to train Clutter and drag messages back. But Clutter continued to deliver false positives to it's folder. This group of people gave up and turned Clutter off. Kumar has this to add about training Clutter:
"Moving messages to the Clutter folder (or back to the Inbox) is the strongest signal. However, if you read/reply to similar messages in Clutter, or leave similar messages in the inbox unread, it can make it difficult for the system to figure out what your personal idea of Clutter is. Similarly, any messages marked as read would be taken as a signal that messages like those are not Clutter. The reaction can be that the system puts less and less in Clutter (and eventually zero), because it can't clearly identify the pattern."
So, if you read and reply to messages from the Clutter folder, this also trains Clutter to recognise a message as "Not Clutter". I personally have had a great experience with Clutter across two Office 365 tenants that I frequently live in. I believe it's because there are messages that I glance at and based on the subject, determine them as "Clutter" and don't read them. Clutter creates the rule and my Inbox is clutter-free. When Microsoft acquired Acompli recently, they acquired a similar technology to Clutter. After releasing the Outlook app for IOS and Android, people began to benefit from the "Focused" view in their Inbox. It does a great job. Kumar had this to add about Clutter and Acompli:
"We're actively working with the Acompli team to merge the two technologies - I'm hoping we'll have something for you guys to see fairly soon."
Keep at it, Kumar and Team. Keep looking at how different people read their email. Merge what you can from Acompli. I for one, appreciate having a clearer Inbox to focus on during the day.